5 Things To Consider Before Going Backpacking Around The World

The over-mounting excitement one typically feels before heading off on an around the world backpacking adventure is hard to fully describe in words.  The delayed gratification it takes to save for a trip, pre-planning and waiting all add to the adrenaline rush of when things finally come come together in the end.  Although major issues such as funds, planned itinerary and length of the trip are often predetermined before one ventures off into unknown territory, it is the little things/details that are often overlooked.  The following five tips are suggestions to make your ‘big trip’ run a little smoother:

1)  Backup Portable/External Hard-Drive

For those with even the slightest interest in photography or taking videos, I honestly can’t stress enough the importance of having a portable/external hard-drive backup as part of your gear.  Things can/do go wrong for a variety of reasons when it comes to your primary hard-drive or storage system.  If you’re carrying a laptop or even just storing your files on flash drives these devices can malfunction, at any given moment, instantly vaporizing those wonderful photos you’ve been preciously storing.  Moreover, the risk of theft is often a concern.  To avoid all of this simply carry an back-up portable hard-drive that you carry in a different compartment of your kit.  For example, I always have my laptop with all of my photos/videos in my day pack and my portable hard-drive (with back-ups of all of these) in my main backpack in a well concealed section.

2)  Second ATM or Credit Card

Having a second ATM or Credit Card functions is invaluable for many of the same reasons as carrying an external hard-drive.  When travelling one’s primary credit card can be stolen, damaged, lost, malfunction or simply gobbled up by an ATM machine.  In instances such as this, one doesn’t want to be in a position where they feel in a pinch.  To avoid all of this from happening, carry a second credit card, and keep it safely stored in an area that is far removed from your primary one.  If possible (with either your primary or secondary cards) find one that offers points/benefits such as air miles for dollars spent.  Check out this article from About where they cover some of the best travel reward credit cards.

3)  Travel Insurance

I honestly can’t stress enough the importance of having quality travel insurance.  On my first backpacking trip, I arrogantly decided that spending the money on travel insurance was not something that was necessary and when I wound up sick with a serious infection in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia my several day stay in a hospital cost more than what I would have spent on quality travel insurance policy.  Those who travel multiple times over the course of a year may save money by buying an annual travel insurance policy.  Regardless, leaving home without travel insurance could end up being a potential disaster financially or health-wise.

4)  Scanned Copies of your Important Documents

Make sure to scan or have on-line easy accessible access to any important document you have such as your passport, credit cards, travel insurance policy, banking information and/or emergency contact numbers saved by email and on your hard-drive.  In the case of something going wrong it’s important to be able to retrieve such information for replacements.

5)  Travel Towel

This last tip to take a travel towel is hardly an essential item, but I thought I would include it because it’s something that I’ve always carried with me on the road.  When travelling in hot and humid climates or if you’re constantly on the move, having a towel that is lightweight, easily dryable and doesn’t take up a lot of space ensures one will always be able to take a comfortable shower.  Although many hostels/guest houses have towels, others simply don’t and a regular towel takes much longer to dry.  Nothing is worse than arriving at your new destination tired and in need of a refreshing shower only to find the towel you’ve been carrying in your bag is slightly damp, moldy and noticeably odour ridden.  I’ve personally used this deluxe adventure travel towel on all of my backpacking trips.

On top of the towel you could always do with a decent bag.

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  1. says: Jack

    Pretty caution-laden advice. Really cautious.
    An external hard drive?
    Are you crazy? How about a thumbdrive? A paper notebook and pencil?
    You will regret every extra ounce in that backpack, guaranteed.
    Insurance? Do not trust those insurance companies. No way.
    If you can’t let go, don’t go.
    Just go and quite acting like you’re a hundred years old!

  2. says: Immigrant Patty


    Nice list for us..Because some people they forgot some important thing that they need to bring. Specially if you will travel or go to some place you need to check all your things, like money,your clothes that you will use. don’t bring to much clothes when you will stay only for few days only,also don’t forget credit cards specially when you travel to other country you need to check all so that if you have no money you can use you card also make sure that your credit card is international . You can also bring your Id so that if you have problem you can present your Id. In case only for what happen to you can identify you.

    thats all thanks..

  3. All great suggestions. We personally didn’t bring an external hard drive but Gerard backs up our photos on the web. Didn’t think about the 2nd ATM though. Will keep that in mind for the second round-the-world trip. LOL 😉

  4. says: Lissie

    I always carry cash as well as cards. Cards don’t work always- they don’t work if you are stuck in Fiji at the moment – because there is no power! They don’t work when you need a little “favour” from an official. They don’t work when you are swapping local currencies at borders with other travellers.

  5. says: Ed Rex

    Totally agree with #5. Travel Towels are the best. I’ve used mine far too much even when I’m home!

    Gone are the days of having to apologise for the odour coming from my bag…

  6. Good list. I’m often surprised by people who haven’t really thought this through! I second what Katie says on the insurance though – make sure you don’t “pay twice” by checking first what your credit card automatically insures – mine covers so much in regard to airfares/delays etc plus my travel style means delays etc aren’t really a massive drama, so I also just use worldwide medical as a separate insurance. I don’t travel enough now to use it but previously just had an annual policy that I kept renewing, it was much more cost-effective at the time.

  7. says: Katie

    To add to #2 – not only have a backup, but know exactly what your bank for your primary card will do in case in gets lost/eaten/stolen. I had my Capital One ATM card eaten by a machine twice while in Russia – I managed to get it back from the local bank but in the process I learned that Capital One won’t ship replacement cards overseas.

    Also I would just emphasize the difference between travel insurance and worldwide medical insurance. I have the latter to cover me in situations like getting super sick overseas that also covers me when I return to the US. I do not have separate travel insurance to cover stuff like lost luggage, flight cancellations, etc because I don’t feel it’s necessary – my credit card provides insurance for anything I bought using the card so I feel I’m pretty well covered.

    1. Katie, those are great additional tips and I appreciate you taking the time to mention them. I honestly had no idea about certain credit cards not providing that service and I’m going to be especially careful from now. As far as the travel insurance is concerned that’s a great point. Also, there is special insurance to cover those who carry expensive gear (cameras, notebooks, etc) that is typically not covered in your standard travel insurance package.

  8. says: Bula @ The Irreverent Traveller

    I couldn’t agree more with the second card. Just in eight months, I’ve had my card eaten up by a machine in China and then stop working in Korea. I’m becoming friends with my bank. We’ll be on a first-name basis and I’ll be asking them about how their children are if this continues.

  9. says: Keith

    I can’t agree more with number two and this sounds really stupid but know your pin code. I had 2 credit cards with me when my ATM card stopped working but I could not recall the pin code on one of them so it was useless for getting a cash advance. It is also good to make sure you note when all cards expire.

  10. says: Julia

    I completely agree with #2. I was sort of horrified this summer when a friend in Paris had her ATM card eaten, and no backup. No backup! She was lucky to have a landline to call the US with to fix it, and extra lucky to have a boyfriend to loan her cash in the meantime — a cautionary tale…!